State trooper accused of leaking information for money
Jan. 10 – A Maryland State Police soldier who graduated from Middletown High School faces federal drug and bribery charges after authorities say he leaked inside information about an investigation to a suspected drug dealer for money.
Cpl. Justin Ernest Riggs, 33, is accused of sharing information with someone identified as “Drug Distributor 1” about a wiretapping Riggs believed would begin in February.
In fact, the wiretapping was fake — a ruse used by federal investigators to find out who leaked information, according to a redacted affidavit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
Additionally, the affidavit said Riggs on Thursday picked up $1,800 from behind dumpsters at a motel about 6 miles from the Hagerstown State Police barracks where he worked — a payment from the person to whom he gave investigative information .
Riggs was arrested on Saturday, Marcia Lubin, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney for the District of Maryland, wrote in an email.
According to the affidavit, he was charged with using a communications facility to commit a drug crime, specifically assisting in the distribution of controlled dangerous substances and conspiring to distribute controlled dangerous substances.
Riggs’ attorney, Craig Kadish, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
According to the affidavit, a man who investigators believe was Riggs told Drug Distributor 1 that he was a member of federal law enforcement and wanted a certain amount of money for information. The dollar amount was redacted in the affidavit.
Investigators believe Riggs told Drug Distributor 1 about an investigation targeting him as a suspect, an aborted attempt by two law enforcement officers trying to put a tracker on the suspect’s car, that there was a RICO investigation into Drug Distributor 1 gave and more. RICO refers to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Later, the affidavit states, investigators found Facebook messages between Riggs and Drug Distributor 1 in which they negotiated payment for information.
“I can’t reply without payment,” Riggs wrote in a message. “I can even get you a small payment for your answers.”
Facebook messages later showed that Riggs gave the suspect information about the fake February wiretapping. He also told Drug Dealer 1 if there were any arrest warrants for specific people.
The news also showed that the suspect informed Riggs that he left $1,800 behind the dumpsters at the Red Roof Inn in the Williamsport area of Washington County.
According to the affidavit, Riggs went to collect the money on Thursday. He confirmed to the suspect on Friday that he had received the money.
The affidavit states that Riggs had five credit cards, all of which exceeded their credit limit as of December 2022. The total commitment was $34,000 and a minimum monthly payment of $1,385.
His debt obligations, excluding his mortgage, vehicle loans and educational loans, according to the affidavit, totaled more than $67,000.
According to the affidavit, Riggs began working with the Maryland State Police in February 2012. State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo wrote in a statement Monday that Riggs was assigned to the Western Region Narcotics Criminal Enforcement Division.
In 2014, Riggs — a former football standout at Middletown High School — was among the Troopers named Trooper of the Year.
In 2021, the news post featured Riggs after he and a business partner opened Oak & Steel Furniture, a furniture store that combines wood and metalwork.
Riggs was suspended without pay for his federal charges, Russo wrote.
The Maryland State Police Department of Internal Affairs has opened an administrative investigation in addition to the FBI’s criminal investigation, she wrote.
According to Lubin, a detention hearing is scheduled for Friday at 9:30 a.m.
Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel